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attending to these considerations, the professed friends and advocates of religion have disturbed the world by their contests with each other, and hereby done greater injury to the cause they are endeavouring to support, than it could possibly receive from its greatest adversaries. “ For where envying is, there is confusion and every evil work."
2. We are again reminded of the importance of receiving the gospel of Christ, and of the danger of rejecting it. That will be rewarded with an endless existence, of ever growing happiness; this will be punished with the loss of it, and with much misery. If, therefore, you value yourselves for the possession of reason, or regard your own interest, be not careless in examining the credentials of one whose claims, if true, will be followed with such consequences, both to those who receive and to those who reject them. Having admitted the divine origin of this gospel, be not negligent in complying with its conditions. No advantages that you can gain, no pleasures that you can enjoy, will bear any comparison with the advantage and pleasure of a life of eternal happiness; no evil can be compared with the loss of such happiness.
John iv. 1-26 1. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2. (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples;)
3. He left Judæa, and departed again into Galilee.
Jesus, knowing that the report which the Pharisees had received respecting his growing popularity would
excite their jealousy, and induce thein to lay plots for his life, resolves to retire to a remote part of the country, which was under the jurisdiction of Herod, and where the influence of the Pharisees was not so great as in Judæa. The reason of his not baptizing proselytes himself, but leaving that work to the apostles, was probably an apprehension that those who enjoyed that honour would assume to themselves some pre-eminence over the other disciples, and that thus a foundation would be laid for future contentions and animosities.
4. And he must needs go through Samaria.
The road from Jerusalem to Galilee lay through Samaria.
5. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
This town, now called Sychar, but originally Sichem, or Shechem, was built upon a spot of ground of the same name, purchased by Jacob of the father of Shechem, Gen. xxxiii. 19, and afterwards bequeathed to Joseph, xlviii. 22, “ Behold,” says Jacob, « I have given thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow;" the language, as it is supposed, of prophetic foresight, in which he declares what would be done by his descendents, rather than by himself. Accordingly we are informed, Joshua xxiii. 32, that in the general division of the country this parcel of ground became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
6. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey sat thus, wearied as he was, upon the well; and it was about the sixth hour; twelve o'clock.
7. There cometh a woman of Samaria, to draw water. Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink:
8. For his disciples were gone away unto the city, to buy meat.
Being left alone, he asked for water only for himself; whereas, had they been with him, he might have asked for them also. He had probably set out upon this journey early in the morning; and it being now twelve o'clock, or about the heat of the day, he was so exhausted with fatigue and want of food as to be unable to proceed any further: he therefore sat down, and sent his disciples forward to procure refreshments.
9. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings, “no communications," with the Samaritans.
That is, they will not cat and drink out of the same vessels, or sit with them at the same table: for that they had some dealings with them appears from the disciples being now gone to one of their cities, to buy food. This is the remark of the evangelist, to explain the reason of the woman's question.
The enmity which subsisted between the Jews and the Samaritans had been of long standing, and had risen to a great height. This people were the descend. ents of a colony of strangers, settled in Palestine in place of the native Israelites, when carried away into captivity by Shalmanezer, king of Babylon. See % Kings xvii. 24, 41. They became obnoxious to the Jews from the beginning, because, although they worshipped the God of Israel, yet they joined with it the worship of their own idols; and still more so after the seturn from the Babylonish captivity, when they built à temple upon mount Gerizim, in opposition to that at Jerusalem, observing similar rites and festivals, and receiving among them every Jew who was dissatisfied with the religion and government of his country. When the Jews were enduring every extremity, in consequence of refusing to worship idols at the command of Antiochus, the Samaritans basely consented to admit the gods of their conquerors. These circumstances inflamed the animosity subsisting between the two nations to the greatest degree of violence, and prcduced those marks of aversion and hatred at which this woman hints, and of which we have other examples in the gospel. Some remains of this people continue to dwell in Palestine to the present times, and from them we received, about a century and a half ago *, an invaluable treasure; a copy of the five books of Moses in the Samaritan character, that is, in the character of the original Hebrew.
10. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, " the favour of God," and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
By the favour of God, Christ means the gospel, which he also calls living water, because it conferred eternal life on those by whom it was embraced. This, he intimates, he would have given her, in return for a draught of water, if she had asked him for it. Christ calls the water which he should give, living water, that is, running or spring-water. It is probable, therefore, that the water in this well, for which he asked, was stagnant water; and it has been observed that reservoirs of this kind are very common in eastern countries, and that they are called wellst.
* The Samaritan Pentateuch was first brought to this country by Archbishop Usher, about the year 1630.
+ Harmer's Observations, Vol. i. p. 422. Vol. 2.)
11. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, thou hast no bucket, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
In the east it is usual for travellers to carry a bucket and line with them, in order to draw water, their wells not being furnished with these conveniences*; but seeing that Christ was not thus provided, this woman thought it impossible for him to fulfil his promise.
12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof, himself and his children and cattle?
As if she had said, If thou canst procure water without a bucket, or if thou hast discovered a spring of living water, thou possessest more sagacity, or art more fortunate, than our father Jacob.
13. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again ;
14. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life, rather, " for the support of an everlasting life.”
Whoever embraces my doctrine will find it suffici. ent for eternal life, and when once possessed of it, will feel the want of no other for that purpose. 15. The woman saith unto him,
• Harmer's Observations, Vol. i. p. 420.